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Olympic Games News

IOC gives thumbs up for Refugee Team at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Date : 10 Oct 2018

Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 10, 2018: There will be a Refugee Olympic Team at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. This decision was taken by the members of the International Olympic Committee at the 133rd IOC Session in Buenos Aires.

A Refugee Olympic Team also took part at the Rio Olympics 2016 with 10 athletes from Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo becoming instant role models for 68.5 million or so refugees and internally displaced people, and true global ambassadors for the values of Olympism.

“In an ideal world we would not need to have a Refugee Team at the Olympic Games. But unfortunately, the reasons why we first created a Refugee Olympic Team before the Olympic Games Rio 2016 continue to persist,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

“We will do our utmost to welcome refugee athletes and give them a home and a flag in the Olympic Village in Tokyo with all the Olympic athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees. This is the continuation of an exciting, human and Olympic journey, and a reminder to refugees that they are not forgotten,” Bach added.

UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi commented: “In 2016 the Rio refugee team captured the imagination of people around the world and showed the human side of the global refugee crisis through sport. I’m delighted that this tradition is to continue in Tokyo. Giving these exceptional young people the opportunity to compete at the very highest level is admirable.”

In Rio 2016, two swimmers, two judokas, a marathon runner and five middle-distance runners made up the refugee team. They marched together in the Opening Ceremony and took part in competition.

Since these Games, the IOC has continued to support them as well as a number of other refugee athletes across five continents through the Olympic Solidarity Refugee Athlete Support Programme offering scholarships which come in the form of monthly training grants and fixed competition subsidies.

Olympic Solidarity and their host National Olympic Committees also help these athletes to prepare and participate in national and international competitions. In 2017, the IOC launched the Olympic Refuge Foundation to support more broadly the protection and empowerment of vulnerable displaced people through sport in partnership with UNHCR.

In 2017, Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini, a member of the first refugee team, became the youngest goodwill ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

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